Thursday, May 31, 2012

Top Two

"For there is a cloud on my horizon. A small dark cloud no bigger than my hand. Its name is Progress." Edward Abbey

I'm home for a just one day. I pulled in around 2:00 am this morning; couldn't sleep. I fell asleep as the sun was making its appearance.

When I crawled out of bed around 10 am, Joni and I took a walk. A nice walk in the woods. Then errands and a yeoman's effort to get some of these weeds whacked. Looks good (sorry no photos). The Chico News and Review had a nice editorial today regarding my story on Sam Aanestad. You can read it here.

Election day is next Tuesday. Then we shall find out who the "top two" will be in the November election. I'm hoping that one of the top two will not be Sam Aanestad.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ed, Guns and Signs

"Let us hope our weapons are never needed --but do not forget what the common people knew when they demanded the Bill of Rights: An armed citizenry is the first defense, the best defense, and the final defense against tyranny. 

 If guns are outlawed, only the government will have guns. Only the police, the secret police, the military, the hired servants of our rulers. Only the government -- and a few outlaws. I intend to be among the outlaws."  Edward Abbey

Ed was wrong on this one. I don't really appreciate some parts of Ed Abbey's cowboy anarchism. Since I live in an area where owning guns is the norm, my safety, as an outsider who has views that aren't part of the cultural norm, well, I'm at risk. My own ridge has had multiple mishaps with firearms over the last four years we've lived there. One suicide by firearms. Alcohol, poverty, substance abuse, high value semi-legal agriculture and gun ownership is a frightening thing.

Guns are not the first defense. They might be the last defense for a society--hence Che' picking up the rifle to protect the poor from the oppressors. But having more firepower often makes you the oppressor.

So what is the first defense against tyranny?

1. Education. A free and literate society.
2. Free speech.
3. An egalitarian society. For more see the great book "The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality Makes Societies Stronger by Richard Wilkenson and Kate Pickett.
4. Courageous people who speak up against oppression. One Gandhi can go a long way. Or Jesus.

All these are more important than a Winchester.

I took a forty five minute walk in Calistoga this morning. Training for this hike has led to me getting my day started a whole lot earler. A good thing.  I saw these signs along the way:

 This is what happens when you don't have socialized garbage collection.

 Is this tyranny?

And I'm starting my hike this summer at Donner Summit. This bumper sticker stating we should save Donner Summit is something I need to investigate further.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

104 Steps

"There is something unnatural about walking. Especially walking uphill, which always seems to me not only unnatural but so unnecessary."  Ed Abbey

I drove down to the hospital on Memorial Day, getting passed along the way by pick up trucks towing monster recreational boats (gotta hurry up to the lake so we can slow down!)---to earn my RNey keep.

This morning I was awake to confront "THE STEPS". 104 of them---or sometimes when I try to count them, 105 of the creepy things. I was doing penance for the Mac And Cheese buffet that we had for the patients yesterday. We are never going to be able to suffer through this here upcoming hike on a diet of plate loads of gooey Mac and Cheese. One coworker quipped to me I should: "Just take an extra Simvastatin".

I took some Mac and Cheese back to my room last night for that midnight feast. Bad.

I spent a half hour admiring these steps this morning. I will push myself away from the extra Mac and Cheese I put in the fridge of the place I stay. Let it tempt another nurse.

Ran across this article on the benefits of walking in the woods today.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

A Suitable Companion

"Balance, that's the secret. Moderate extremism."  Edward Abbey

Every year it is the same thing: I search for a hiking companion. I usually write e-mails to every friend I've ever had and to every friend I wish to make, in the search for a companion to hit the trail with me. Yes, I'd love for Joni to come with me but her back has ended her days on the trail.

This year I wrote my college roommates to ask if they would like to take a "Reunion Hike". None of them wrote back. I asked work friends. No go. No use.

And so I've decided to do the thing myself. I'll meet friends along the way.

However, this year is a good year to take a dog along. The Sierra snows were only 50 percent of normal; the snow pack is low. This means that most of the dangerous river/creek fords will be less hazardous. Meaning a dog can do it.

But which dog? I have three (which is about two too many).

Angel is the elder. Our Yellow Lab. She is four years old now and totally devoted to her girls--that'd be Kylie (age 12) and Jazzy (age 10). Angel is getting to the age where her hips (like mine, but more on that in another post) are getting arthritic. This limits her ability to scamper across rocks. Plus she does like to wander off. Nope, I won't take Angel.

"Little One" (the smallest dog in the photo above) is the newest addition to our family. She is less than a year old and has a bit of the wild left in her. She is just about the friendliest dog I've ever met. She hurls herself into most laps. Her problem is that she likes to run off. Plus she has a tendency to get in trouble. On one walk, she wandered off much too long. Finally she came back---but was being chased by a few coyotes. Little One will find every bit of trouble to get into; she wanders too far; and if there is a doggy virus to catch, she'll catch it. As loving as she is, I think I'd lose her.

So that leaves "Abbey". Abbey is the perfect trail dog: she never leaves my side; she doesn't require a leash; she is fiercely loyal (she chased off the coyotes that were on Little One's tail mentioned in the last paragraph). Abbey does have the wrong color for the trail---being black she requires a lot of water in the hot sun. But I'm comfortable taking her; she will be a good companion.

Abbey will carry her own food in a pack. I'll carry our water. We will take a couple overnight practice hikes before we hit the trail in August.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Abbey and Me...

In August of 2012, my dog "Abbey" and I will take a little 150 mile hike along the Pacific Crest Trail from Donner Pass to the town of Belden. Abbey is named for my literary hero, Ed Abbey---and so this blog will consist of a quote from Ed Abbey (provided on a serendipitous basis from the great Eric Temple and his Ed Abbey Facebook page), followed by some sort of training log, thoughts and whatever from yours truly.

To start it will be a training log. The trip itself will be written about after it is completed. Some folks have followed me in other blogs: welcome. Others might be new. What ever happens, I hope it is fun.

And so, the first Ed Abbey quote is from today:

"A young man should be an adventurer. A middle-aged man should be a producer of useful goods for his fellow humans, a good husband to a wife, and father of children. And an old man should again be an adventurer, not physical as in youth, but an adventurer in ideas."

Sounds like a good place to start. I'd only add that it is important for an old man to be an adventurer physically too.